Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Value of Education

I can't predict student behavior so I was a little bit surprised when a student came to me the past two days and asked, "Why are we doing this?"

Those who have or work with teenagers understand that intonation is everything in a conversation with the age-challenged.  And this kid? Was not asking for the purpose of knowledge.  His goal was to ensure I understood how stupid he thought the assignment was.

Nothing like having a 14 year old question your methods to cap off a great day.

Of course, this incident makes me realize that all the things we've been discussing in our RTI (Response to Intervention) meetings are pertinent--crucial even.

What have we been discussing?  Well, I'm glad you asked, because I'll take all the input I can get.  The question at hand?  How do we make students and parents understand the intrinsic value of education? 

Sometimes, those are questions I struggle to answer.  I know the things that are going to be valuable to the majority of my students.  I realize that not all of those things are going to be super-exciting, or even useful for the rest of every student's life.  Yet I hesitate to say that these skills will never be useful.

Will my students, in their adult lives, ever go on to write a literary analysis paper about a book they've read?  Not many of them.  However, the good majority of them will be required to read documents that require ample analysis before they should put pen to paper and sign their names.

Will many of my students go on to deliver public speeches?  Probably not.  But almost all of them will face a job interview at some point...and the skills learned for a public speech are easily transferable to this particular situation.

You get the point.  So the question remains:  How do we make sure they understand the real value of an education (as a whole...not individual assignments)?  What could we say or do that would make a difference? 

Maybe we need to mount an advertising campaign?  Do we need to share life circumstances that may not matter to them for another 10 years?

Or maybe, we just let them make snide remarks like "Why are we doing this?" 

In the meantime, I'll work at not talking through my teeth when I say, "Because you obviously don't understand..."

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